He is moving to San Francisco in three weeks. For grad school, for his MBA with an environmental focus at Stanford. He tells me this after I see him across the bar. After I wait a few hours and imbibe a few drinks to get up the nerve to say hello. Mark tells me this after I fall in love with him.
The informal monthly happy hours bring together snowboarders (me) and surfers (him). When I arrive I think he's looking at me but it's possible that he's only looking at me because I can't stop looking at him. He is beautiful. Dark skin, dark eyes, the most amazing smile. Finally, a moment when he is alone sipping his beer.
"So you're a surfer?" I say. "Yes." he says.
He's lived in New York for five and half years. He is leaving in three weeks. He buys me a drink. I buy him a drink. He tells me about all the New York things he wants to do before he leaves. I think about how I want to do all of those New York things with him before he leaves. He tells me that yesterday he spent three hours reading Dickens in the park. I fall more in love with Mark.
I don't know if he is real. I've had four drinks.
At some point during an awkward silence I say, "You're very cool, it's been great talking to you. Too bad you're leaving in three weeks." He agrees. He is only being nice, I think. He gives me a giant bear hug on the way out.
I want to whisper in his ear that he should stay and we should get married, or spend his last three weeks doing amazingly-romantic touristy things like stroll through Central Park holding hands, or just spend this night with me. Or at the very least we should be friends on Facebook.
I say none of these things. "Good luck with everything in San Francisco!"
"You too, good luck with...everything!" He leaves.
If this were not real life he would have left with me instead of his friend. We would have spent the entire night together walking around the city until sunrise. We would have shared a magical kiss. If this were not real life I would have told him that he is everything that I look for in a man. That I've never met anyone else like him and I never will.
This is real life.
He'll forget me and in fact he probably already has. He was just being nice. He is leaving in three weeks. I'll forget about him soon too, like what he looks like or how we met. I'll remember more the spirit of him and I'll look for that in another man. I'll look for someone who is handsome and happy, and smart, who laughs and makes jokes, and reads Dickens, and cares about the environment. I will be disappointed.
I'll remember those feelings during those moments that made up those few hours, that made up that day at the start of those three weeks before he leaves. I'm going to keep them with me because they were pure and untouchable and I'm never going to get them back.